The Gospel today is not taken from Matthew but from John. Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well is only found in John’s Gospel. It is a long dialogue and it is very significant. There was long-standing hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans at the time due to cultural and religious differences. Men and women especially strangers, were not expected to speak to each other in public so Jesus contravenes all sorts of taboos to ask a woman for a drink. Her bucket would have been ritually unclean to a Jew. But Jesus’ conversation is not about quenching His own thirst, it is an invitation to God’s gift of faith.
The village well was an important meeting place for people and the fact that this woman is going to draw water from the well in the midday heat is an indication that she is excluded from the community. The disciples were shocked that Jesus would speak to such a woman, but during their conversation Jesus shows that he knows all about her sins and past life, she had many husbands, and he is inviting her to change. Jesus uses the encounter to explain that He has something amazing to offer her, “Living Water” which will sustain her in this life and in the next. The thirst of the Samaritan woman is very profound, she is open to the “Living Water” that Jesus offers. Like the Jews, the Samaritans believed that the Messiah would come and because of this, after speaking with Jesus she was able to accept His offer of the gift of faith and recognise him as the promised Messiah. After their conversation the woman became a disciple. Although she was an outsider and not a Jew she leads others to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, telling the other villagers about her encounter. Because of her witness many come to believe in Jesus. Her past does not hinder her from being a messenger of Good News. On reflection, we can ask ourselves some important questions regarding our own Christian faith. Do we really understand what believing in Jesus means to our spiritual life? Have you experienced a personal invitation to faith? Do I thirst for God in my daily life or is my faith just confined to Mass on Sunday? Our spiritual life is a journey which has many ups and downs, maybe moments when we feel excluded or disinterested in our faith, but Jesus never retracts His offer of “Living Water.” It is up to us to decide if we want to turn our experience of Jesus into a message for others.